We just returned from an amazing trip to Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai. Click the photo below to see a few pictures from our adventures.
We moved into our apartment in Toronto about a year-and-a-half ago, and we've slowly been decorating, piece by piece. I am impatient, so this is like torture. But I've been burned in the past trying to rush this process. So I'm taking my time, trying to find interesting pieces that reflect our style (and budget).
The latest challenge is our bedroom. I'd like to put lights next to the bed. Sconces or table lamps would work, but I haven't found anything that seems right. Here are some of my favorites so far. What do you think?Read More
Guys! I've migrated to Squarespace. It is awesome and totally appropriate for this post because it's about podcasts, and Squarespace is a proud supporter of pretty much all the podcasts. It was seriously hard to decide which of the many podcasts I love would get credit (through use of an offer code) when I signed up.
Podcasts are definitely having a moment. Whether Serial* paved the way or just brought podcast popularity to the forefront, one billion iTunes podcast subscriptions don't lie. While I'm cooking, photo editing, commuting, or doing any number of mindless activities, a good podcast makes the time fly. But with so many options out there, it's really hard to know where to start. Aside from Serial, here are a few of my favorites to get you well on your way to being podcast-obsessed:
- This American Life: I'm sure many of you are familiar with TAL. If not, you should check it out. They examine stories small and large about what makes us human, what makes us extraordinary, and what makes us the same. This recent episode about how difficult it is to change people's minds really made me think.
- 99% Invisible: The name comes from the idea that good design is 99% invisible, and this podcast featuring the melodious voice of Roman Mars breaks down some of the most innocuous building blocks of our world in a fascinating narrative. Plus, Roman Mars' voice is so soothing. This episode, was particularly good cocktail party fodder.
- Radio Lab: An examination of how things work whether it's biological, political, chemical, or mechanical. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich create a narrative that is engaging and educational (sometimes mind-blowing!). Check this episode out to see what I mean.
- The Moth: The creators of the Moth bill it as "true stories told live." That is so underwhelming. The Moth is a program where real people, and some celebrities, share heartfelt moments from their lives in a carefully considered and totally captivating way that helps me see my own life in a different light. If you are a reader, I think the Moth is for you. These (here and here) are some of my favorites.
- Invisibilia: So Alix and Lulu, the hosts of this lovely program, sort of sound the same. Some people might be confused or annoyed but that, but I don't mind at all. In fact, I like their voices, and even more importantly, what they have to say. They investigate, create, and share beautiful stories about the things happening all around us that we cannot see. I am often talking about what I hear on Invisibilia for days. For example, this convinced me that WE MAY NOT NEED EYES TO SEE! Seriously, it's magical.
- Death, Sex, & Money: Oh Anna Sale, how will we continue to live confused and repressed lives if you're out there asking people all the questions about all the important topics? Not to mention, she does it in a compassionate and non-threatening way that invites (seemingly) honest answers. Anna interviews all kinds of people about some of the most difficult parts of their (and everyone's) life, and we all get to learn from it. Brilliant. Check this and this out if you don't believe me. (Choosing which episodes to mention was really hard. There are so many great ones. Just listen to them all.)
- The Read: So I got into The Read because I love Beyoncé, and I read somewhere on the internet that the hosts, Kid Fury and Crissle, are also proud members of the Bey Hive. These two friends also talk honestly and passionately about issues of race, sexual identity, and whatever else is on their minds (including Karruche, the Kardashians, and many other pop culture topics). Sometimes they give advice to listeners, and they always make me laugh. Try these, 1,000 hours and 100 Reads, on for size. *The Read is explicit; not for little ears or delicate sensibilities.
- Freakonomics: This is a hard show to describe. The episodes feature super smart people discussing fascinating research in a real-life context. For instance, do you want to know why diamonds became so valuable, or why advertising works? This one about ideas that should be retired got me hooked.
- Dinner Party Download: Food, drinks, pop culture, music, and trivia. These are things I love, and I especially love when fun, talented celebrity guests come along for the ride. DPD starts out with small talk, then moves into cocktails (recipes), and then the main course, which includes fun interviews with chefs, musicians, comedians, actors, and generally interesting people. I always have something to talk about after listening. Here's a great episode featuring Aubrey Plaza.
Honorable Mentions: Radio Ambulante/Planet Money/Start Up/How Did This Get Made?/The Savage Lovecast/This Is Really Important/Burnt Toast/Radio Cherry Bombe/The Sporkful/Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!/The Longest Shortest Time
*I'm assuming you know what Serial is, but if not, check it out. You will NOT be sorry (unless you binge listen to all the episodes in one night).
Hello, hello! This is a bit of an unusual post because I haven't written much about beauty products or skincare. That said, you never know what's going to catch my attention.
About five months ago I was at my wit's end trying to figure out the right combination of products to clear up blemishes that had started appearing in the spring of 2014 and would not go away. Not only were they making me self-conscious, but they were also starting to cause scarring. I tried expensive products from department stores and tried and true brands from the drug store, nothing was working. That's when my friend Jennifer reached out to me about this new brand of products she was selling, Rodan + Fields. (Now in Canada!) She offered to let me try the products free of charge and see for myself whether they lived up to the hype. Despite her generosity, this review reflects how I really feel about the results.
I tried the Unblemish line (shown above), and I will admit that I was skeptical. I'm not usually drawn to products sold through direct sales. I enjoy going to the store (I think I've mentioned that Sephora is like my Narnia) and comparing similar products to choose the best one. I also like knowing that when I want a replacement product, it's something I can just pop out and pick up. The thing is--this works. After using the Unblemish products for just two months, instead of having deep, painful blemishes around my jaw line and cheeks, my skin was smooth and clear.
I started out using the system twice a day, and after two months scaled back to once a day before bed. At night, instead of using the Unblemish Oil Control Lotion, I used the Redefine Night Renewing Serum and the Redefine Multi-Function Eye Cream (Jennifer's smart recommendation). The serum comes in little capsules and is silky smooth. It's supposed to help firm up the skin and reduce wrinkles, but I wasn't worried about these issues when I started the regimen, so I am not sure how much different the serum made in that department. I will say that loved the way it felt on my skin, and it definitely kept my skin moisturized at night.
My real favorite, though, was the eye cream. I have used so many different eye creams, but this is the only one that I've ever noticed a difference with. I tend to have dark circles and lines under my eyes, and this cream noticeably reduced both. I am still amazed at the results (though I probably shouldn't be given that it's currently sold out in the U.S.).
Finally, I also tried the Soothe Sensitive Skin Treatment. It's extremely cold and dry in Canada during the loooong winter, and there were a few times in February when my face was chapped from walking outside in below-zero temps. This cream is specially designed to treat chapped and cracked skin. It definitely helped calm my red, peeling skin. With this (and help from some good old-fashioned Vaseline on the really dry spots), my skin was pain-free and healed in no time.
Rodan + Fields was founded by two dermatologists, Drs. Rodan and Fields. Prior to this, they created the Proactiv solution, which I haven't used, but a lot of people swear by it. Maybe it shouldn't be so surprising that these products deliver. The prices are similar to what a lot of department store brands cost, so they are not cheap. That said, I've been using the Unblemish system for almost five months, and I still have plenty left. Not to mention that it's hard to put a price on clear skin. When I do need a refill, it's simple to re-order online. There are also options for scheduling automatic refill shipments that Jennifer can tell you all about.
Have any of you tried Rodan + Fields? What are your skincare secrets?
Hello, hello--it's just about time to get out the hanukkiah. That means big meals with friends and family. I've been researching recipe ideas and would love to make so many things. Here are a few yummy options for your fête.Read More
Guys are so hard to shop for. They tend to buy what they want/need, and usually aren't interested in the little extras that we ladies love. Not to worry, though. If you're still wondering what to get your guy, I've searched high and low and come up with plenty of excellent options.Read More
It's officially just under two weeks to Christmas, and even less time until Hanukkah. That means holiday parties left and right, and lots of gift giving around the corner. Here's a roundup of some great hostess/home gifts for your friends and family who are always making the best meals and throwing the best soirées.Read More
The holidays are upon us, and I love giving gifts. It also totally stresses me out. I can spend days searching high and low for the perfect gift--ideally something she wants but won't buy for herself. Here are some of my favorite ideas for the perfect Hanukkah or Christmas gift.Read More
Looking for something easy and healthy to make for dinner tonight? This Curried Eggplant recipe from Food and Wine is an old standby of mine.Read More
Most of you know that I'm a huge fan of the 99% Invisible podcast. This week's episode, Three Records from Sundown, features incredibly beautiful tape recordings of Nick Drake.Read More
Have you seen these gorgeous images of ingredients suspended in mid-air? They are part of a collection of photographs called Recipes by Nora Luther, a Berlin-based designer. Now that food photography is everywhere, the project is meant to help us look at food from a different perspective.Read More
Toronto is buzzing right now. Apparently celebrities are everywhere because some film festival called tiff, which is NOT short for Tiffany, is happening, and for a brief moment Toronto is just a little cooler. I do enjoy films and random celebrity sightings--my best so far is still Jane Krakowski at the meat counter in Whole Foods in Tribeca--but that is not what I am loving about Toronto right now. Rush Lane & Co. is what I am loving about Toronto right now.Read More
Summer has been full of gorgeous Ontario vegetables. I started working on this quiche recipe weeks ago, but between traveling and studying I had to put the post on hold. I think it was worth the wait, though. The buttery herb crust can be used for any quiche, and the filling will be delicious with any combination of veggies. I used thyme, fresh yellow squash, peas, leeks, garlic scapes, goat cheese, and a hint of lemon to capture the flavors of summer.Read More
Don't we all want to change something about our kitchen? Or don't you at least want to look at some beautiful kitchens? My friends are about to transform their kitchen from a completely crowded, countertop-less space into a useful and beautiful butterfly. In their honor, and for everyone else's indulgence, I've compiled some kitchens that I wouldn't mind cooking in.Read More
Hello, hello! Before I get started on our recent trip to Seattle, I have to explain to my remaining readers (hi Mom and Dad) my prolonged radio silence. Basically, I was traveling with my family to Seattle and Alaska and then studying like crazy for some law-related exams, which lasted an entire week. Now that those are behind me, I’m so excited to share some of the discoveries from our travels and a few other things that I’m thinking about these days.Read More
Now that summer is in full swing I find myself enjoying the hospitality of friends more and more. Bringing a bottle of wine or bourbon is always nice, but sometimes--for example, if I'm staying a week at my friend's cottage free of charge--I feel like I should throw in a little something extra. Here are a few ideas for host/hostess gifts that might just get you invited back.Read More
Pintxos (pronounced pinchos) are Basque tapas. Basque Country spans a small region of Northern Spain along the Bay of Biscay and a portion of Southern France. San Sebastián, Bilbao, and Pamplona, Spain are just a few of the destinations in Basque Country where pintxos are an art form. I have a particular nostalgia for pintxos because I began my love affair with food in Pamplona while I was an exchange student there during university. Before Pamplona, the connection between food and place was abstract to me; cuisine was a function of quality, not culture. In Pamplona, though I missed familiar North American dishes, especially brownies, I grew to love new combinations of flavors and ingredients. Salty anchovies, briny olives, sweet piquillo peppers, and buttery jamón became staples in my diet. My roommates and I took turns bringing home the daily fresh baguette. My infatuation with pintxos, however, was about more than just delicious flavor. In Pamplona and the surrounding area, gathering with friends to have a glass of wine or a beer and some pintxos is a glorious pastime. We would stand (sometimes sit) at the bar for hours chatting about our day, drinking delicious local wine, and snacking on whatever pintxos were on offer. Time seemed to slow down during these "happy hours." The entire community enjoyed a reprieve.Read More
I can almost feel my mother's disapproval all the way from the Midwest as I write this. We are rhubarb purists. Rhubarb tastes delicious without adding strawberries, raspberries, or any other sweet fruit that might compromise the mouth-puckering tartness that makes rhubarb special.Read More
I am just going to ride this rhubarb train to the end of the line. On the advice of Robin Kaufman, an excellent bartender (in fact, bartender seems too limited to describe his skills, but mixologist seems too precious) at the Toronto Temperance Society, I decided to make a rhubarb simple syrup, instead of using the poached rhubarb liquid I have been using from this recipe.Read More
As I am about to celebrate my first Canada Day in Toronto, I had no choice but to try my hand at butter tarts. I have to admit that, even though we served them at our wedding, I was not in love with the runny filling. I grew up eating gooey butter cake, which is full of buttery, sugary deliciousness but has a thicker, more cake-like consistency. Since our wedding, however, these Canadian tarts have started to win me over, and I knew it wouldn't be long before I tried to make my own. I am not a fan of the traditional raisin recipe, so these butter tarts feature toasted pecans, which add a little crunch to the soft texture and some nuttiness to balance out the sweetness. I've also opted for maple syrup instead of corn syrup for a smokier, more complex flavor (also Canadian!). I added bourbon and orange zest balance out the sweetness. The result: a butter tart that tastes like a butter tart, but also has a little personality of its own.Read More